There’s a ‘green’ choice for that.

Ever picked up your favorite shampoo and flipped it over to read the ingredients? What are all of those things? Even working in my field I don’t know what most of it is without looking up its MSDS.

Bunny Trail: Did you know you can google pretty much any thing and find its MSDS? By far that is one of my favorite things about the internet. Yes, I’m aware that just further confirms my geekyness.

Anyways, even when you look up something on the MSDS and it is labelled as safe in X amounts, how are you sure that with everything combined you aren’t being over exposed? This is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately. To be honest, I’m not the doubtful type, if the substance has been found to be harmless in miniscule amounts I’m not to worried about it. But what happens if that miniscule amount is in your shampoo, your conditioner, your hairspray, your gel, your lotion, your hand soap, your body soap, your deodorant, your toothpaste and… well you get my point right? Then is there a chance that you are getting too much? To the point were it could be harmful?

So, we go green right? Well, going green as they say, doesn’t appear to be as easy as it seems. Sometimes I feel we are misled by a product that we are using because we think it is better. For example, just recently I was on this wonderful blog called Live Renewed where I was learning how to make my own homemade dryer sheets (seriously, you should check this out because she is very clever!) when she proudly suggested using Ecover Fabric Softner. And rightfully so, after all the ingredients in this are natural unlike the ones in other fabric softeners that are petroleum-based.

Great, right? Well, maybe. According to Ecover’s site the products they make are plant and mineral based. Great, right? Again, well maybe. Here’s the ingredient list for their fabric softener taken from their site:

  • Aqua
  • Dipalmitoylethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate
  • Dipropylene glycol
  • Fragrance 
  • Sorbic Acid
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Linalool
  • Citronellol

Immediately something stuck out to me: Dipropylene glycol. Could it be true? Surely I’m mistaken. So I research it and sure enough I find that it is in fact petroleum-based. (Assuming of course that they don’t derive their Dipropylene glycol from a different source than the ways that I know of. If you know that they do please tell me. I would LOVE to be proven wrong and I LOVE learning new things!) Below is the shortened version of how Dipropylene glycol is made.

Dipropylene glycol is a derivative of Propylene glycol (also called monopropylene glycol). Here is some info from Shell’s site about it. There it states that propylene glycol is a derivative of Propylene oxide.

So how is Propylene oxide manufactured? There are a few different ways that are talked about in this article, but the important part to us is the ingredients. Of the ways to make Propylene oxide, these ingredients are used: Propylene + chlorine + sodium/calcium hydroxide, ethylbenzene + propylene or isobutene, cumene, and propylene + hydrogen peroxide.

  • Propylene + Chlorine:
    Propylene: A colourless, gaseous hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum.
    Chlorine: The chemical element of atomic number 17, a toxic, irritant, pale green gas
    Sodium hydroxide: NaOH, or Lye
    Calcium hydroxide: pickling lime
  • Ethylbenzene + propylene or isobutene:
    ethylbenzene: made from benzene and ethylene or naturally found in gasoline.
    Propylene: A colourless, gaseous hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum.
    Isobutene: An isomer of butylene which is obtained from petroleum.
  • Cumene:
    Made from benzene and propylene, both obtained from petroleum.
  • Propylene + hydrogen peroxide.
    Propylene: A colourless, gaseous hydrocarbon obtained from petroleum.
    Hydrogen peroxide

So, any way you slice it, petroleum is involved. Now, don’t get me wrong, Dipropylene glycol is considered safe, but again I wonder how much of it are we getting? I wonder, since Dipropylene glycol is considered safe are they classifying it as a mineral? It is derived from a natural occurring substance: petroleum. After all, it is classified as organic. But wait, did you know that the Chemist’s definition of organic is simply a compound that contains carbon. Quite a broad range isn’t it? Did you know that Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide, Methane, Acetaminophen, Chloroform, and DDT can all be called ‘organic compounds’? 

I’ve just really been feeling like there are a lot of things out there claiming to be different, but when it gets down to it do we really know what and how much we are surrounding ourselves with?

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5 thoughts on “There’s a ‘green’ choice for that.

  1. Pingback: Some ‘green’ detergents contain petrochemicals « Chemically Inclined

  2. I’m glad I found you! I’m researching Ecover right now because of ingredients they use that I feel they shouldn’t be. They claim “non-toxic” and then use SLS, SLES and other things like the aforementioned dipropylene glycol!

    1. I’ve found many times that products that claim to use better ingredients are really just using different ingredients. It is up to consumers to do their research and decide what they are comfortable with and stop trusting the advertising on the label. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to you, I don’t know if you noticed but I have taken a rather long break from blogging. I’m getting ready to get back into it and I hope that you find any new articles I write to be just as helpful as this one!

  3. Debbie Barnet

    I was researching Ecover fabric softener. I, too, was concerned about the dipropylene glycol. It seems like there is just no TRUE chemical free products out there. I have been using vinegar as a fabric softener and have been pleased with it. Just miss the wonderful scents of traditional fabric softeners (even though the fragrance is a chemical). I just bought a HE top loading washer that has a fabric softener dispenser on it. I am wondering if it would hurt to use the vinegar in that dispenser.

  4. Edelweiss

    I’m glad you put on the information about Ecover. I have used their products believing one thing, and now I am seeing another….. maybe shouldn’t be in the ‘natural’ section after all…

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